Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Mid-September Singles: Wide and Varied

September 22, 2017

There’s a lot going on in here, for real. Enjoy!

1. “Silverlake” – Underlined Passages. The dreamy indie-pop of UP’s previous work is traded for a punchy indie-rock model; Michael Nestor’s vocal lines are still flowing and smooth, but the now-more-crunchy-than-jangly guitars and snappy drums give this tune a new-found pep.

2. “Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet, They Shall Be White As Snow;” – Glacier. Dense, heavily distorted, pounding guitar chords set the atmosphere for this 13-minute post-rock/post-metal epic, but there’s a lot more going on in 13 minutes than just chug (including a found-sound clip of an old time voice reading the end of Matthew 9).

3. “English Weather” – Fick as Fieves. British rock that falls somewhere between the Arctic Monkeys and The Vaccines, propelled forward by an indomitable syncopated guitar riff.

4. “Like Lightning” – Cosmo Calling. Fun vocal rhythms and melodies take the lead on this indie-pop-rock track. The guitars are neat and accompany well, but this one is all about the staccato, syncopated vocal delivery.

5. “Canary” – Holy ’57. There’s a certain type of major-key, drums-first vintage groove that reminds me of fuzzy home videos of summer in NYC during the ’60s and ’70s. People are rollerskating. A dude is playing a trumpet on the corner. There’s a hazy glow around everything. This indie-pop song sounds just like that (even includes a trumpet!).

6. “I Can’t Say No” – The Crayon Set. Smooth, appealing acoustic indie-pop with some fuzzed-out guitar and shimmering synths adding color. The chill vocals fit perfectly over the backdrop.

7. “Bedford” – Too Many Zooz. If you’re into Moon Hooch’s mad sax blast, you’ll be equally thrilled by the sax-trumpet-drums maelstrom that is Too Many Zooz. This video sees them bringing their incredibly infectious rhythms and powerhouse melodies to the NYC subway–at 3:33 in the morning. Stuff like this just happens at 3 a.m. in New York, I guess?

8. “Keep the Car Running” – Silver Torches. If Bruce Springsteen had emerged in this era, this might be what like he would have sounded like: surging drums, melodic piano, yearning vocals, and a serious-yet-warm atmosphere. Just a great tune.

9. “International Dreams” – Farm Hand. A rubbery, loping electronic beat underlines distant, almost-droning vocals for a tune that sounds like “My Girls”-era Animal Collective in a sleepy (yet still happy) mood.

10. “Like Going Down Sideways” – Cut Worms. Lo-fi tape hiss, Beatles-esque songwriting impulses, and “eh-it-doesn’t-need-to-be-perfect” performances make for an endearing tune.

11. “Old Fashioned Way” – Todd Kessler. Ah, yes. A calm, gentle folk love song talking about slowing down and looking back to the old fashions. It doesn’t get much more folky than this, y’all, and it doesn’t get much more chill.

12. “Enjoy It While It Lasts” – Easy Wanderlings. Strong female vocals lead the way through this easygoing folk tune. The video has an actress gallivanting around in a field, which is a pretty much perfect analogue to this wistful, nostalgic tune.

Glacier: Dark, towering post-rock with great attention to detail

September 18, 2014

Post-rock can be divided roughly into two arms: the stuff that fits easily on film scores, and the stuff that doesn’t. The former is no less artistically viable (Explosions in the Sky!) than the latter: it’s just an easy way to differentiate the priorities of the band in question. Glacier does not traffic in triumphant earworm melodies. Instead, the band creates fully realized soundscapes that include found sound, spoken word, instruments that sound like air raid sirens, and lots of empty space in addition to guitar and drums. Some post-rock accompanies the movie: Glacier‘s post-rock is the movie.

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They’ve dropped two releases at the same time: the 18-minute Black Beacon and the 32-minute Kirtland. The entirety of Black Beacon is one ominous track that sounds perhaps like night during World War II, due to the eerie air raid sirens at the beginning of the track. They move from using the instruments as soundscape tools to a prolonged section of bleak, trudging, stomping, burdened rock that is genuinely towering by the middle. It’s post-rock for people who like post-rock for post-rock’s sake. I know that seems like a self-evident statement, but Glacier is in a whole different ballgame than (IC faves) Lights & Motion: L&M is concerned with beauty, light, and airy arpeggios, while Glacier is concerned with heavy, slow, moody, dissonant things. (Their respective names are also perfect representations of their differences.)

kirtland

Kirtland is a little peppier than Black Beacon, taking less time to get to towering walls of noise. Opener “You’ll Love It Here Forever” drones not by low-level buzz and hum, but by hammering the same riffs and rhythms for a good long while (like a certain post-metal band with a currently unfortunate name was fond of doing). In short, it’s got way more riffing than the former album. The 21-minute title track of Kirtland returns more to the moody element, dedicating the first minute to no more than four chord strums and some truly evocative wind noises and tape hiss. The careful construction of the background noise (again, like a movie would) sets up a very particular mood that Glacier expands throughout the track. It’s the sort of attention to detail that people who’ve heard a lot of post-rock will really appreciate.

If you’re into moody, dark, heavy, occasionally thundering post-rock, Glacier is ready to help you out.

Teen Daze: "Ice on the Windowsill"

August 23, 2013

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I love Teen Daze, and I’m stoked that we get a new album so closely to his The House on the Mountain EP. Glacier will drop October 1, but until then we get “Ice on the Windowsill,” which pairs his beautiful, smooth chillwave with rattling beats to create a really nice mood. It’s like when you’re riding on a bus: everything is objectively going by quickly, but it feels slow because you’re not physically moving or controlling the vehicle. Beautiful, beautiful stuff. Highly recommend.

(I’m almost done moving, so I’ll be back on the reviewing schedule soon.)

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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